The story between Norway and France has always been long and exciting and this time it wasn’t any different. This time, probably the best two defenses met in the second semifinal of the evening and the question was who will join the Netherlands in Sunday’s big final. Norway started slow while France took a flying start. Amandine Leynaud was unbeatable in the goal and Alexandra Lacrabere was unstoppable on the other side of the court. Before the match, many said that this is a now or never for France, and the way they started made it clear that they want to turn the night into “now” instead of “never”. After 15 minutes played, they were leading by 3 goals (7-4) and Norway wasn’t performing well in attack. In the middle of the half, Thorir Hergeirsson tried a substitution in the goal that worked out perfectly: while Kari Aalvik Grimsbö didn’t really find the rhythm of the French team, Silje Solberg entered the game perfectly. Her great saves helped Norway come back into the game and this made the French players less confident. The Frenchwomen couldn’t score for more than 10 minutes which was decisive in the first half because in this period, Norway made a quick 7-0 period to have a 4-goal lead (7-11). Even though France managed to break the Solberg-curse in the last minutes and came closer to the opponent, the first half ended with a 2-goal lead for Norway (9-11).
In the beginning of the second half, Olivier Krumbholz also tried a goalkeeper substitution that worked out as perfectly as Solberg for Norway: Laura Glauser entered the game with a classy performance. With her saves, France came back into the game quickly (11-11) and the battle of defenses became a true nerve-breaker for the second half. Both teams put a lot of energy into stopping the opponent’s attacks and the two young goalkeepers that could become the greatest goalkeepers of the decade ahead of us, put up a fantastic performance in the goal. Both teams had to fight hard for every single goal and they turned to the last 7 minutes with a French lead (16-15). However, Silje Solberg became the destiny and the nightmare for France once again. With her spectacular and very important saves, including a key penalty from Manon Houette, she built up a wall for the last 7 minutes that the French team didn’t manage to break down. In the most important moments, Norway managed to concentrate more and scored the most decisive goals to turn the last minutes into celebration: Norway won the match by 4 goals (16-20). In Sunday’s final, Norway will face the Netherlands in the “Dream Final”: from what we saw in the last two weeks, it can be said that the best two teams will face each other in the EHF EURO 2016 Final in Göteborg.
EHF EURO 2016 – Semifinals
France – Norway 16-20 (9-11)
France: A. Lacrabere 6(1), M-P. Gnabouyou 3, M. Houette 3, L. Landre 1, G. Zaadi 1, E. Nze Minko 1, G. Niombla 1
Norway: N. Mörk 7(5), M.M. Frafjord 4, E.H. Arntzen 3, V. Kristiansen 3, A. Kurtovic 2, S. Oftedal 1
Penalties: 2/3 ; 5/5
Suspensions: 2 minutes ; 8 minutes
Player of the match: Silje Solberg (NOR)